While it might be a catchy title for this article, “good bug” and “bad bug” are misnomers. Every insect and organism has an important role to play in our ecology – supporting nature’s single goal of balance. So, in a natural sense, every organism is good. The very definition of ecology is the interconnection of organisms in our environment.
However, once we introduce the human perspective, the distinctions of “good” and “bad” translate into our perceptions of how insects and other organisms help us achieve our human goals for a healthy landscape. What humans consider a “pest” to be eliminated is probably an important food source for another organism or feeds on other insects. IPM, then, seeks to integrate the balance of nature with the human perspective.
- Beneficials– organisms that promote the health of the landscape (Examples: honey bee, earthworm); some beneficial insects are natural enemies (predators, parasites, pathogens) occasionally used for biological control.
- Predaceous ground beetles – E-185
- Pests – insects and other organisms that harm the landscape or interfere with human activities.
Incidental landscape organisms generally not affecting plant health but occasionally causing concern or becoming a nuisance:
- Pillbugs – ENT-1006
- Craneflies – EEE-00037
- Lovebugs – EEE-00025
- Slugs and Snails– EEE-00026
- Barklice – EEE-00008
- Springtails – E-214
- Earwigs – E-213
- Silverfish and firebrats – E-583
Neither – organisms that have little or no effect on the landscape, but are important in protecting ecological balance.
In the case of some insects – honeybees, for example – beneficial can be a subjective term (especially if you’ve ever been stung by one!). Honeybees are widely considered beneficial insects because they pollinate flowers, but their stings can be deadly to humans and animals. For this reason, some people might say honeybees are “good bugs,” and some might consider honeybees “bad bugs.” Red imported fire ant predation on flea larvae, cockroach eggs, caterpillars, ticks and chiggers can make them “good bugs” on occasion…